Zelenskyy revealed this after hosting European Union chief Charles Michel, European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen and EU foreign policy chief Josep Borrell at a summit in Kyiv early Friday - a first in a war zone.
“What exactly did we agree upon today?” the Ukrainian leader said in his traditional evening address to the nation. “There is an understanding that it is possible to start negotiations on Ukraine's membership in the European Union this year.”
He also said that the summit is “proof that Russia can't break us.” Earlier, the EU's leadership had expressed support for Kyiv in “every step of the way.”
But while the top EU officials stressed their backing for the war-torn country's integration with Brussels, von der Leyen cautioned that there could be “no rigid timelines” for Ukrainian membership or talks.
Zelenskyy has pressed for a speedy accession to the EU as Ukraine fends off Russia's nearly year-long invasion.
“Tonight we can say that Ukraine is moving towards its goal,” he said. "We spoke and are already speaking as members of the European community.”
Zelenskyy has been campaigning for his country to join the 27-member bloc since Russia's invasion on Feb. 24 last year.